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Jul 22nd, 2014

Take some risks

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Have you ever seen an indecisive child trying to jump rope? They have two friends swinging it round and round in a circle and they are just off to the side trying to feel out the rhythm of the rope. Their head and hands bob up and down every time the rope passes by and it seems as though they will dive in at any moment, but then they don’t. They just stand there telling them self they will hop in the next time the rope passes by, but each time finding some reason to wait for a better swing. The problem is that the longer they wait the more they psyche them self out.

There will always be a reason not to take action on a daring plan or bold idea.  Whether it is something you want to create, like a company or piece of art,  a brand new approach to an area of your life needing renovation or something you sense God wants you to do to bless someone; if you wait for everything to fall in place and line up perfectly to take action, you will never do anything. Birth involves both beauty, agony and mystery. Without uncertainty there is no need for faith. Risk is essential for reward.

If the dream that lies in your heart is something the world truly needs to see. If it will inspire people or be disruptive in an industry, it is probably somewhat shocking, will most likely be misunderstood, and doesn’t look, feel or sound like anything anyone’s heard before.  If there is nothing new, unfamiliar or foreign about it than dream bigger. Don’t peddle a carbon copy of someone else’s passion. There is greatness inside of you waiting to come out and the only way that will happen is if you face your fear and take a risk.

The downside of being original is that until people love it, they won’t understand it and will not see the need for it.  There was a day when air travel was seen as impossible, computers unnecessary and rock and roll  controversial.  We take for granted their place in our life now but that’s because people were willing to press on in spite of all the reasons why they should stop and just accept the world as it is. They stuck to their guns, took reckless steps of faith and changed the world as a result. Never forget this; conventional wisdom can keep you from a miracle.

Perhaps you are not supposed to do something entirely new but do something you are already doing with an entirely new mentality.  Zacchaeus didn’t do a different job once Jesus rocked his world. He approached his same old job with a fresh set of eyes and a new value system that flew in the face of the prevailing best practices of tax collectors in that day.  Instead of greed he was fueled by integrity and generosity.  It would have been shocking to his peers and there would have been many shiny, gold reasons why he shouldn’t tip over the apple cart or wait until the end of the fiscal year.  He took action. The right time to do the right thing is right now.  If you wait until you have answers to all your questions or can guarantee a favorable outcome you will still be standing there forever, the rope swinging by again and again while your life passes you by.  You just gotta go for it. 

Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV)

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It was an absolute dream come true to be able to travel to Europe to preach the Gospel earlier this summer. We have seen people from other countries come to know Jesus through our ministry over the years after watching live webcasts or listening to an episode of our podcast; but being able to put on evangelistic events on foreign soil was an absolute thrill and honor.

Skull Church has been a platform to preach the Gospel since the first event took place in 2009. The bloody death of Jesus Christ and His power over death is what it is all about. Later this fall we will be going on a tour that will take us through several states but up until this point, with one exception, we haven’t really gone outside of Montana. So to go to England and Hungary was a major step of faith and a joy.

Preaching in the beautiful city of Budapest was something I was a little stressed about, since preaching through a translator is something I have only done on a few occasions and Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages on earth. The upside is that you have the time to gather your thoughts while they are translating but you are constantly having to rethink whether humor will come across and if a phrase has an equivalent in their paradigm. It ended up going well.

England was of course much easier as they sort of own English. To the British we are the ones with an accent, and are seen as having butchered their language. No translation was needed and I had a blast ministering there. It was absolutely wonderful to hear people calling on the name of Jesus in Hungarian and with a British accent. It gave me chills. The gospel is powerful no matter what nation you are in. Jesus is the only name that can save in any language.

In addition the the Skull Church events I also preached at a pastor’s conference with leaders who had assembled from all over England, Scotland and Ireland. It was a massive honor to address them and encourage them to keep going and not grow weary. We also were able to bring a little fresh life to York as we took over the weekend services at my friend Pastor Dave Sylvester’s church on a Sunday morning. It was a great pleasure for me to see our team serve so faithfully, through the jetlag. Some of them had never left the country before and I love the opportunities that God opens up for us as we follow Him. Never a dull moment.

I truly believe that this was just the tip of the spear as it comes to the international future God has in store for Skull Church, and specifically in Europe. Now that we have done it once we have learned our footing a bit, and made some mistakes on the way. I am hungry to do it again and to see what the Lord will do.

Here is the Skull Church Europe lookbook:

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This year marks the fifth anniversary since Skull Church was born. The first one took place in Kalispell, Montana in 2009. We have seen God use these explicitly evangelistic events in many places and great ways since then. This summer we are so excited to be taking it out of the country for the first time as we go to Europe! On June 28 and 29 we will be having two nights in York, England and on July 1 we will be in Budapest, Hungary.

We are thrilled at the opportunity to preach the gospel to those who will come and believing God will use these events in a major way. Please join with us in prayer!

Details about the events and our fall tour here.

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In the 10 years of the O2 Experience’s history we have never done two tours in a year, we have also never had a tornado scare while setting up for an event. I suppose there is a first time for everything. Back in January we kicked off the new year with a tour of Florida, and last week we made our way from Texas through New Mexico to Colorado which is where we had the tornado scare.

Hearing sirens go off and getting National Weather Service alerts on your phone telling you to “Take Shelter Now” made sure the trip was eventful. There was also golfball size hail denting cars and airplanes in Denver as we made our way towards the city. Fortunately everything passed without incident and nobody was hurt. If there is one thing I have discovered about serving the Lord it is this: There is never a dull moment. This tour certainly lived up that expectation.

Between the wild weather and part of our road crew breaking down in the badlands of New Mexico — a part of the country you definitely don’t want to be broke down in — and the sickness that spread through our team just as the tour was set to kick off, we certainly had plenty to keep us on our toes. The four events in Dallas, Houston, Albuquerque, and Denver were incredible.

We enjoyed working with the churches that hosted and supported the event, and had fun exploring their cities. The events were powerful and supercharged by the Holy Spirit. Best of all we saw many, many people give their lives to Jesus and an enormous uprising of those committing themselves to strength and honor as they pursue God’s plans for their sex lives. Many who rose up in response did so with much behind them they would undo if they could, but that is what the O2 is all about. Redemption. Hope. Reconciliation. Beauty from Ashes. That’s how our God rolls.

I am so full of gratitude that God allows me to be a part of what He is doing through these events and am endlessly thankful for our team that pursues this vision, heart and soul.

Here is the lookbook from this tour:

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May 22nd, 2014

10 years of Oxygen

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Ten years ago today we were in full swing planning and preparing for what would be the first event called The O2 Experience. I was a youth pastor in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the vision was for a state-wide event geared at reaching as many people as possible with the message of sexual purity. Jennie and I had just gotten married and God had spoken to us (about as clearly as He ever has spoken to me in my life) about this while we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii. We felt burdened to warn this generation about just what is at stake when we abandon God’s designs for our sexuality.

When I say warn I don’t mean just that they might get an STD or pregnant, though those are certainly an issue and a part of what we talk about. In my experience consequence driven communication is not very effective if that is all you have to say. People aren’t looking for rules to live by, they are hungry for a reason to live for. The message burning on my heart isn’t “Don’t sin!” but rather, “Rise up and change this world for Jesus!” The warning I am referring to is that this calling on their lives to shine brightly and reach people can’t be unleashed fully without holiness. Our strength and sanctification are connected. Simply put, you cannot be powerful with out being sexually pure.

I feel not only strongly that I am supposed to give this message and put these events on, I feel that it would be sin to be silent. I feel that God will require the blood of those I am meant to reach from me if I don’t speak up. So for these past 10 years we have criss-crossed the country, from Montana to Florida, and from Colorado to California. The events have changed enormously in that time. Thinking back to the first one in 2004 that we put on it pains me to remember how ghetto it was. (Cringe.) Thankfully, in spite of our rookie status at production God moved in great ways. True to the original vision thousands drove from not only all over New Mexico to attend, we even had some youth groups bus in from surrounding states.

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We returned to Albuquerque, where it all started, and had an event in the same room where the first one took place. Very special. Thankfully we have learned a thing or two over the years and the events have become fine-tuned and fully-loaded. The biggest change was in 2007 when we expanded it from just focusing on relationships by adding an explicitly evangelistic focus to the O2 Experience. That was when we began describing and approaching it as “a fresh look at life, death, sex and romance.” From that point on things really clicked. It was as though our airplane finally had both wings and we could take off.

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Looking back over the past ten years and the events in all the cities I am blown away thinking about the thousands we have seen give their lives to Jesus and rise up in strength and honor, embracing God’s plans for their love lives. It is humbling to be a part of it and I can’t wait to see what is around the corner—starting tomorrow night when we finish this anniversary tour with an event in the mile high city, Denver, Colorado. Purity is worth fighting for!

For more information about the O2 Experience or to request an event in your city, please visit www.o2experience.com.

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